Either way, Rio wants more of your money

10 December 2016 - 15:53 By The Daily Telegraph, London

The mayor-elect of Rio de Janeiro has proposed the introduction of a new tourist tax - to raise funds to reimburse tourists mugged in the city.

The "bold proposal" could be funded by a tax on air passengers, Marcelo Crivella told business leaders this week.

"Rio de Janeiro cannot continue treating its tourists as if they were an afterthought," he said.

He suggested that, in the event of a mugging, tourists could appeal to Rio authorities for compensation.

But travel industry leaders expressed concern the charge would prove just as off-putting for tourists as Rio's high crime rate.

"Creating such a tax makes no sense, unless the aim is to discourage tourism in Rio de Janeiro," Mário Beni, who has served on the UN's World Committee on Tourism Ethics, told the New York Times.

The city is infamous for its street crime. In June, as Rio prepared to hold the Olympic Games, Rio officials declared a "state of public calamity" as street robberies for the month reached 8,000 - more than twice the number reported in June last year.

In August, a video emerged apparently showing 27 separate incidents of pick-pocketing and daylight robbery of tourists in Rio.

In it, thieves attempt to grab bags, cellphones and wallets - and even try to reach inside buses stopped at a junction.

Crivella's idea has also caused dismay among Rio's residents, who receive no such financial protection from the authorities.

In June, Rio police rolled out a banner reading "Welcome to hell" in the arrivals hall at the international airport, during demonstrations against funding cuts in emergency services.